Henderson sewer project held up, could keep the Gillhouse from reopening on time

The Gillhouse in Henderson Harbor has stood since 1813.
The Gillhouse in Henderson Harbor has stood since 1813.(WWNY)
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:29 PM EDT
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Henderson, New York (WWNY) - A domino effect in Henderson: A town-wide project is held up, and it could keep an iconic building from reopening on time.

The Gillhouse has stood since 1813, and over the past two years, Steve Vollmer has worked to bring back the iconic site as a hybrid hotel and restaurant. Now, a town-wide sewer project is threatening to halt it’s opening next month.

Town Supervisor Ed Glaser said it’s out of his hands.

“It’s just been a very long project to get this up and off the ground,” he said.

Glaser said the sewer project is needed and it’ll keep Lake Ontario clean, but due to COVID-19, the price has shot up by nearly $11 million.

While the town finds funding, it’s holding up progress.

“Supply demands have gone up and increased. Petroleum products have went up,” Glaser said.

The Gillhouse runs on a septic tank right now. Glaser said the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH), have deemed it outdated. Glaser said while the DEC is willing to make an exception and allow the business to pump and haul sewage away, the health department hasn’t budged.

“I understand they’re going by their rules, and their books, and their regulations, but the whole town would like to see the Gillhouse open up,” Glaser said.

That leaves Vollmer with two choices: either install an adequate septic tank, a cost that would be six figures, or wait until Henderson finishes it’s project.

“We’re trying to be efficient and effective with our own resources. Doing what we need to responsibly, but also work with everything going on around us,” Vollmer said.

Despite the shakeup, Vollmer said he is still shooting for a May opening, and plans are in place to make that happen as soon as possible.

“Worst case scenario, if the town wasn’t able to get it’s systems in place with the DEC, bite the bullet and put in this big, self-sustaining septic system,” he said.

According to Glaser, the DOH will only consider allowing pump and haul at Gillhouse once the sewer project is under bid, but that can’t happen until the project is fully funded.